LAKE ELSINORE Temescal Canyon boys basketball coach Dan Bosna knows what his team experienced Tuesday night will be a good thing in the long run ---- even if it felt pretty awful afterward.
The Titans' surprise run in the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA playoff came to a startling end after they were manhandled by second-seeded La Verne Damien, 62-32, in a quarterfinal game at Temescal Canyon High School.
Damien roared to a fast start and stunned the young Titans by taking leads of 16-4, 19-6 after one quarter, and 33-14 at halftime. The Spartans (23-6) took advantage of 14 first-half turnovers while holding the Titans (14-16) to 5-for-22 shooting from the field. The lead went to 20 points early in the second half and reached 30 in the waning minutes.
"They are the real deal," Temescal Canyon coach Dan Bosna said of Damien, which advanced to face Corona del Mar in Friday's semifinals. "Any time you get to play a program like that ---- and see the kind of experience my young team could get ---- well, I just have to tip my hat to the green team."
The Titans turned heads themselves in this postseason after qualifying for the Sunbelt League's final automatic playoff berth via a play-in game following the end of the regular season. Then they knocked off 10th-seeded Garden Grove Pacifica and seventh-seeded Temple City in the playoffs' first two rounds to advance to Tuesday night's quarterfinal.
But that momentum couldn't sustain, as the second-seeded Spartans showed why they are so well regarded.
"We knew coming in that they were thinking they could do the same thing to us," said Damien sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley, who scored a game-high 18 points. "And we couldn't let them."
Hemsley led the charge for the Spartans, scoring a game-high 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting ---- he also hit all six of his free-throw attempts. In the first quarter alone, he had two steals, two rebounds, two assists and six points. Senior guard Jared Dizon added seven points and 10 rebounds.
The Titans' defense, its trademark under Bosna, actually played pretty well, holding Damien to less than 40 percent from the field in each of the three quarters. But the offense was overmatched from the outset.
"They just took (guards) Marcus (Kirkpatrick) and Luke (Timm) right out of the game," Bosna said.
His team, though, has a bright future. Timm, Marcus Kirkpatrick, Jay Merriweather, and double-digit scorer Tim Fazande, just a sophomore, all return.
"I'm very proud of this team," said guard Devante Kirkpatrick, the lone starting senior Tuesday night who missed six weeks of the season with a torn patella tendon. "Next year, they should go far."